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      Experimental Comparison of the Comprehensibility of a UML-based Formal Specification versus a Textual One

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      11th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE) (EASE)

      Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE)

      2-3 April 2007

      Notation comprehensibility, semi-formal and formal notations, empirical assessment

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          Abstract

          The primary objective of software specification is to promote understanding of the system properties between stakeholders. Specification comprehensibility is essential particularly during software validation and maintenance as it permits the understanding of the system properties more easily and quickly prior to the required tasks. Formal notation such as B increases a specification’s precision and consistency. However, the notation is regarded as being difficult to comprehend due to its unfamiliar symbols and rules of interpretation. Semi-formal notation such as the Unified Modelling Language (UML) is perceived as more accessible but it cannot be verified systematically to ensure a specification’s accuracy. Integrating the UML and B could perhaps produce an accurate and approachable specification. This paper presents an experimental comparison of the comprehensibility of a UML-based graphical formal specification versus a purely textual formal specification. The measurement focused on the efficiency in performing the comprehension tasks. The experiment employed a cross-over design and was conducted on forty-one third-year and masters students. The results show that the integration of semi-formal and formal notations expedites the subjects’ comprehension tasks with accuracy even with limited hours of training.

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          Most cited references 14

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          Qualitative methods in empirical studies of software engineering

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            Nonparametric standard errors and confidence intervals

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              Building knowledge through families of experiments

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Conference
                April 2007
                April 2007
                : 1-11
                Affiliations
                Dependable Systems and Software Engineering Group, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of

                Southampton, University Road, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom
                Article
                10.14236/ewic/EASE2007.1
                © Rozilawati Razali et al. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. 11th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE), Keele University, UK

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                11th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE)
                EASE
                11
                Keele University, UK
                2-3 April 2007
                Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
                Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE)
                Product
                Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
                Self URI (journal page): https://ewic.bcs.org/
                Categories
                Electronic Workshops in Computing

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